Putting the question ‘Which is best?’ to the test
Raymond D. Aller, MD
The November, 2002, Survey
may be located here.
People often ask me, "What is the best LIS on the market?" and
they become distressed when I don’t give them a straight answer.
This is not out of petulance but perspective.
Rather than asking which one is the best, you should develop a
thorough understanding of the challenges faced by your laboratory
and determine which of those challenges are not being met by your
current information-processing systems, including manual processes.
Which functionality is most crucial: Connectivity and interoperability
with the hospital’s electronic medical record system? Seamless connection
to computer systems in physician offices? Accurate and efficient
billings? Attractive multi-color reports with gross and microscopic
pictures? Web access to your lab data from multiple locations? High
levels of security to safeguard patient confidentiality? Industry-standard
software architecture? A proven track record? The list goes on.
Laboratories should make a wish list, in order of priority, of
their requirements. Using this list, you can determine which vendors
or systems best match your lab’s needs.
If you are seeking a system for a multi-specialty group practice
laboratory, clinic, or physician office lab, perhaps you should
consider those vendors who were born in that environment, such as
Orchard Software, Antek, and Schuyler House. On the other hand,
if you are seeking support for a high-volume community commercial
lab, perhaps you should consider vendors who got their start in
that domain, such as Antrim (whose product is now marketed by Misys
as Commercial Lab) or Seacoast Laboratory Data Systems. (Seacoast
declined to participate in this year’s CAPTODAYLISsurvey.)
If you need to support a lab that processes 5,000 or more specimens
per day, don’t choose a system that is installed only in facilities
processing fewer than 100 specimens per day. Conversely, the complexities
that must be built into a system for handling 5,000 or more specimens
per day may overwhelm the system management staff of a small laboratory.
Keep in mind that you are entering into a long-term business relationship
with a vendor. Your level of comfort with them as a business partner
is just as important as the specifics of their products’ functionality.
Pages 56-80 feature 44 laboratory information systems from 37
vendors. The survey is based on vendor responses to a CAPTODAYquestionnaire.
Anyone interested in purchasing an LISshould seek more detailed
information, particularly from vendors who make general or vague
claims. (Please note that Intellidata has been purchased by Impac
Medical Systems and is listed as Impac in this year’s lineup.)
In keeping with this month’s laboratory information systems focus,
the "Newsbytes" column (page 108) reports on the KLAS user-satisfaction
survey of LISvendors. While the KLAS survey is a useful guide, note
that it focuses on only a handful of the many excellent vendors
in the marketplace.
Again, there is no single "best" LIS. Labs need to prioritize
their information system desires and research the marketplace to
determine which vendors best address their top needs and wants.
Dr. Aller is based in Vista, Calif., and can be reached at